De Tahiti a Moururoa

March 24, 2011

Bought this the other day out in the suburbs before having Korean noodle. Du Kuh Bee is open late and the waiter knows my order before I sit down. Finding a restaurant like this starts to make me feel like a place is my home.

Sometimes it can be a little hard finding music from the south pacific that was recorded and marketed for more than just the tourist market. Its hard to tell with this one.

After enjoying some of the artists on this label sampler record, a short unsuccessful search on the internet was followed by an email to the label in Tahiti, tried out some wickedly bad french in the hopes of tracking down old vinyl copies of records by Poline or Suzanne.

The owner of the label Yves Roche was kind enough to respond and relate the unfortunate news that all their vinyl was long gone. He recommended some cds.

Moururoa is a small atoll that starting in 1966 was used extensively by the French government for nuclear testing. There was 41 above ground nuclear tests with 35 of them detonating in helium balloons. The government of New Zealand pressured France into stopping these in 1974 so their solution was to move them underground for the next 20 years.

Price: $2.95
Location: crappy beaverton record store.

Maeva – Suzanne
Ta’u Pinia – Poline et les Surfsiders
Motu Uta – Suzanne

Sound Fun/Comfort (Mina Aoe)

March 3, 2011

There is a genre of music in Japan where people sing about how awful they feel. It’s sort of like Japanese blues. Maybe it is called enka? My friend Chizuko told me it is only old people that like this kind of music. I like it a lot too.

Here’s a whole bunch of interesting facts about enka according to wikipedia:

The term enka was first used to refer to political texts set to music which were sung and distributed by opposition activists belonging to the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement during the Meiji period (1868–1912) as a means of bypassing government curbs on speeches of political dissent – and in this sense the word is derived from “enzetsu no uta” (演説の歌?), meaning “speech song.”

Enka suggests a traditional, idealized, or romanticized aspect of Japanese culture and attitudes. Enka singers, predominantly women, usually perform in a kimono or in evening dress. Male enka performers tend to wear formal dress, or in some performances, traditional Japanese attire.

Modern enka’s mainstream scale is called “Yonanuki Tan-Onkai” (ヨナ抜き短音階?) or “Minor Scale without Four and Seven (Re and Sol),” and is a modified version of “Yonanuki Chō-Onkai” (ヨナ抜き長音階?) or “Major Scale without Four and Seven (Fa and Ti),” which came from an older Japanese scale, the “Ryo Scale” (呂音階, Ryo Onkai).

Enka lyrics are usually written similarly around the themes of love and loss, loneliness, enduring hardships, and persevering in the face of difficulties, even suicide or death. Although enka is a genre of kayōkyoku, it is considered to be more expressive and emotional, though there is no clear consensus on the matter.

Archetypal enka singers employ a style of melisma—where a single syllable of text is sung while moving between several different notes in succession—known as kobushi. Kobushi occurs when the pitch of the singer’s voice fluctuates irregularly within one scale degree

To read the lengthy in-depth wikipedia entry go here: Enka

I sent scans of this to Koji Seito, hopefully he can help.

He helped! The name of the singer is Mina Aoe and the album is called Sasurai no Uta (Sing Shinpei Nakayama’s songs). Correct song titles now up. He confirmed that Mina Aoe was popular with lots of “blues” songs giving her the nickname Queen of the Blues. Koji sent along this youtube link which is apparently her biggest hit:
Isesakicho Blues
Sounds okay but could live without the doobie doos.

Price: $1 or gift from David
Location: far north on Rue Bordeaux

Sad Song Number One: Sasurai no Uta (Drifter’s Song)
Sad Song Number Two: Sendou Kouta